Thursday, February 15, 2007

Why Libertarians Shouldn't Run as Republicans, Part 382

I caught a brief moment of Sean Hannity's show today, and he put a caller on who asked why Hannity doesn't interview Ron Paul, a Republican member of the US House running for President.

Ron Paul. Republican. Running for President. That should be worthy of an interview by Hannity, the rah-rah Republican talk host, right?

Oh, you should have heard the scorn and dirision in his voice. "Ron Paul's a Libertarian," Hannity hissed. "Ron Paul's campaign can call and make an interview request," said Hannity, working as quickly as possible to dispose of the call.

Who needs that kind of treatment? Paul could run as a Libertarian Party candidate (or even as a Democrat) and gain the same response from Hannity. But Paul's a Republican. He's been elected to the US House as a Republican repeatedly. He seeks the GOP nomination. And yet, Hannity treats him like a pariah.

This is what happens to libertarians who run as Republicans. Don't drink the kool-aid! Remember again that the Texas GOP gerrymandered Paul out of his district in an attempt to be rid of him.

So, to those who believe Libertarians and Republicans are the same, feast your eyes yet again. When Hannity spits on a Libertarian-Republican fusion candidate, it should tell you all you need to know about the relative similarities or differences. To those who believe the GOP is dominated by the descendents of Barry Goldwater, just watch how Ron Paul is treated.

Ron Paul in the back room with the GOP's Good Ol' Boys.
Astonishing Bigotry

When ex-NBA player John Amaechi revealed that he is gay, I figured another player would say something stupid and intolerant. I was sadly correct, but I had no idea how stupid the comment could be. From an ESPN article:
Former Miami Heat guard Tim Hardaway said on a radio show Wednesday afternoon that he would not want a gay player on his team.

"You know, I hate gay people, so I let it be known," Hardaway said. "I don't like gay people and I don't like to be around gay people. I am homophobic. I don't like it. It shouldn't be in the world or in the United States."
It astonishes me to consider how easily and quickly a member of one oppressed minority group can become the oppressor of another oppressed minority group. Hardaway is black.

For his punishment, I order Hardaway to take his above quote and substitute the word "black" for "gay", and see how it feels.

Note: The ESPN article with this quote has many excellent links to other articles, and even the Hardaway soundbite... should you feel the need to hear the stupidity you've read.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Indie Radio Threatened Again

Many years ago, I began a "career" in community broadcasting, at WCSB 89.3-FM in Cleveland. From 1987-2002, I butchered many formats, from rock 'n' roll radio to political talk. I was always very grateful for the opportunity, and always very grateful for the small but dedicated audiences that were looking for and finding something different on WCSB.

Stations like WCSB have adopted a fine mission: To air worthy materials the corporate stations won't touch. WCSB has for years aired foreign language shows, blues, jazz, hardcore punk, 20th Century classical, etc. WCSB has aired a slew of political shows from under-represented viewpoints, such as Radio Moscow back in the day, feminist viewpoints, and even my old Libertarian news and comment show. A niche market exists for it all.

At the same time, independent community stations are doing what the big corporate stations are doing- broadcasting online. In fact, the community stations led the way. WCSB was the first Ohio station to simulcast online. Being online allowed unique stations like WCSB, WFMU, WRUW, among many others, to reach a wider audience than their paltry signals might. People who moved out of town and wanted to hear their old favorite, or just people interested in interesting, eclectic radio all could hear from anywhere.

The thing that could end this is the royalty situation. Like other community stations, WCSB pays royalties to outfits like BMI and ASCAP, who distribute money to artists based on airplay. Royalties for online spins have long been a grey area.

No longer, and not for the better. Here's the word from my long-time radio buddy Keith Newman:

WCSB 89.3 FM in Cleveland and other college radio stations across the country may have to give up webcasting their signals due to new rules set up by Sound Exchange and the US Copyright Office. The rules were created to ensure that artists would be paid for their work that was webcast online. It sounds like a noble cause. Paying musicians for the music they make sounds wonderful to me and I’m all for it. WCSB pays royalties to BMI every year for broadcast materials which I don’t have any problem with. Unfortunately the rules from Sound Exchange will guarantee that all but a few bands never receive a dime from getting played and fewer people will know they exist.

The fees for reporting are expensive and more importantly the reporting requirements are prohibitive. The costs are .02 per listener per song and there are 11 data fields that must be tracked for each song played. Bands receive .0007 cents per song played and Sound Exchange will not send out checks until a band accrues at least $10.00 in songs played. A band would have to be played more then 14,285 times before they would receive their first check! And to rub a little more salt in that wound it costs $45 to register a sound recording with the US Copyright office.

Almost all of the money paid in to the system by college radio stations will never reach the artists that these rules are supposed to benefit. It is much more beneficial for college radio to be able to introduce new music to audiences all over the world via webcasts. Most bands played on WCSB would make more money by selling one cd then they will ever see from sound exchange fees.

The new rules will force college stations to either adopt a mainstream radio format (it's a lot easier to report songs when you play the same thing every hour) or in many cases cease webcasting. A few stations might try to comply with the new reporting rules but when you look at the reality of what goes on at college stations it would be difficult. A college radio DJ has to pull their music and cue it up. They need to choose their Station IDs and PSAs and cue up more music. They need to monitor what they play for decency standards or else face the prospect of being fined $325,000.00 by the FCC and cue up even more music. They need to answer phones and pull requests and did my Dead Kennedy’s CD just end?? Oh my god dead air!!! Throw anything on! When is a DJ that does a rock show supposed to enter the 11 data fields required by Sound Exchange? Most rock songs only last 2-3 minutes. It can’t be done during commercial breaks because there aren’t any. College DJ’s would need to get secretaries just to handle the paperwork.

The new rules are not about paying artists. They are about controlling content and limiting competition. The RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) has been hemorrhaging money for years and is trying to make it all back by controlling the information you can access over the web. As bad as this is for college radio it is far worse for the bands that will never be heard by an audience that wants to hear

So enough bitching... I do appreciate if any of you are still reading this. Here's what you can do about it.

1. Go to and read the SAVE OUR WEBSTREAM message. If you already feel you've read enough you can skip reading it and go to step 2.

2. Click on the text of the SAVE OUR WEBSTREAM message. This will take you to a page with a form letter that you can send to your elected representatives. If you don't know who your representatives are we have links to help you out. Keep in mind that you don’t need to be 18 years old to write your representatives!

3. Pat yourself on the back for helping to support college radio and making the Internet a better place.

For more information on this issue you can read Michael Gill's "A threat to Your Stream" article from the Cleveland Free Times. Http:// Some of the details listed here came directly from his article. Others came out of my own research in to the matter including information from

Feel free to post or send this to anyone you think might be interested in radio, fair competition and free speech.

Thanks for your time and your activism,

Keith Newman
Scruggscorp Syndicated Radio
& Crap!
Mondays Midnight-2:00 AM EST
WCSB 89.3 FM, Cleveland

I want to see bands get paid, but I don't want to see the station choked into oblivion. This all reminds me, the erstwhile third party candidate, of the onerous reporting rules caused by the two major parties in their badly misnamed 'campaign finance reform'. It has the effect of keeping good people out of the race. This all looks like it could knock good stations off the net.

Who benefits from that? Draw your conclusions, but I'll say it isn't the artists.
Argue Carefully!

There is another smoking ban proposal on the table. Libertarians would do well to craft their responses carefully. From the Indy Star:

State Rep. Charlie Brown wants to make it illegal for Michael Echols to smoke in a vehicle with his kids.

Echols, however, doesn't think the Indiana General Assembly has any business telling him or any of the state's other smokers how to raise their children or when and where they can light up.

"That's like going into my house and telling me I can't smoke in front of my kids," said Echols, who lives in Indianapolis. "What I do in my own car is my own business. I'm totally against this."

Now, I doubt Echols is a Libertarian. He's probably just the average Hoosier smoker who is incensed that government is looking to police the inside of his car on behavior he engages in. Either way, there is a great danger of sounding like you encourage smoking in a confined space occupied by children.

It's hard enough to argue successfully against laws that are 'for the children'. Add cigarette smoke to the mix, and it's a tough one to win. Here's the mentality defenders of liberty are up against:
Brown said he believes in protecting children who can't protect themselves.

"I recognize and accept the fact that many people think there's too much intrusion of the government," he said. "But in this particular case, if the youngster has no other option, the government needs to step in and provide protection and a safety net for children."

I urge the defenders of liberty to really think carefully before spouting off on this. Any time you argue in such a way that another can come to believe that you think harming someone else is a great idea, liberty loses the argument. Too many already think that government action is the only defense because parents aren't looking out for the best interests of their kids. Please don't make it worse by letting people like Rep. Charlie Brown and other nanny staters think you believe its your right to happily bring harm to your children. They will denounce liberty all the more fervently, and point to libertarians as some kind of evil. I was reading the comments after the Star article and was shaking my head. Well-intentioned defenders of liberty are merely telling nanny staters that their intrusions are right, because liberty is too mindless to be enjoyed.

So, to the parents who smoke: Why would you intentionally subject your kids to smoke? What kind of weak selfishness is that? You are the adult, so show some adult discipline. Smoke after your get out of the car, or at least when they aren't in it. You do have choices here.

Then, think of Voltaire, who was great at summarizing similar issues. To paraphrase, I don't think it's a great idea to smoke with the kids in the car, but I think that government hyper-policing of our behavior in our cars is a dangerous thing- perhaps worse than the problem it seeks to fix.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

What is This? Alabama?

After shoveling at 6:30, I was out for a drive this morning in my Fishers neighborhood. Normally, Lantern Rd is choked with traffic. I could could four cars, including mine, on Lantern this morning.

I simply cannot get over how the whole region has simply battened the hatches today. I measured five inches of snow this morning. Is this Alabama, or what? Five inches of snow is all that is needed to grind Central Indiana to a halt? Incredible. We're just two hours south of the Great Lakes, and people here are afraid of snow... Wow, but our spirit can be weak at times.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Lousy, Stinking Hypocrite

Before McCain-Feingold, I really had no strong opinion about John McCain politically. I have great sympathy for his POW experiences, but politically, the man is The Devil. From an excellent Washington Post report:
But now the contrast between McCain the presidential candidate and McCain the reformer can be jarring. McCain's campaign says that he is still studying whether to forgo the public financing and spending limits he has long supported, but that he will not be handicapped by restrictions his competitors will not face in 2008.

McCain the reformer worked unsuccessfully through Congress and the courts to try to stop nonprofit political groups known as 527s from using unlimited donations to run political ads and fund other activities aimed at influencing voters in the run-up to elections. He reintroduced legislation last week to end 527 donations, but there appears to be little appetite in Congress to pass it.

McCain the candidate now expects Republicans to use the same big-money 527 groups in the 2008 elections to beat Democrats, if the groups remain legal. "The senator believes that both parties should be subjected to an even playing field. If Democratic organizations are allowed to take advantage of 527s, Republican organizations will, too," said Mark Salter, a senior McCain adviser. The senator declined to be interviewed.

I can understand hiding from the microphones and cameras. John McCain, could you please retire now? Dan Burton may fail to turn up for votes, but John McCain has worked long and hard to restrict political speech under the guise of 'reform', making sure only the biggest money players can play.

It is telling that Salter's comment references an even playing field for "both parties". The level playing field Salter refers to, and McCain created, virtually eliminates third parties, which are apparently not worthy of inclusion.

And, from Jeb Bush fundraiser and Florida lobbyist Brian Ballard:
Ballard said most of the big-money players he knows are not fazed by McCain's attacks on the political-money and lobbying systems, calling it more of an issue for consultants who make their living off big donations.

So screw John McCain. To the suckers who backed McCain-Feingold on the basis that it would 'take the money out'... well? Feast your sorry eyes on John McCain, the 'reformer' and the results of his 'reform'.
At least six of McCain's first eight national finance co-chairmen have given or raised large donations for political parties or 527 groups, campaign and IRS records show. In all, the finance co-chairs have given at least $13.5 million in soft money and 527 donations since the 1998 election.

They include former Bush moneymen such as lobbyist Thomas G. Loeffler and financier Donald Bren, whose personal and corporate donations total in the hundreds of thousands of dollars each in recent elections.

There are so few honorable people in our Congress right now, and so many of them want to be our next president. It's truly depressing. I kept asking honorable people to run for office along with me in 2006. I can see why they don't care to be associated with pond scum.